King Lear

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Gloucester and Edgar in peasant's clothes


When shall I come to the top of that same hill?


You do climb up it now. Look how we labour.


Methinks the ground is even.
horrible (adv.) extremely, exceedingly, terribly
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count


                         Horrible steep.

Hark, do you hear the sea?


                         No, truly.


Why then your other senses grow imperfect

By your eyes' anguish.


                         So may it be indeed.

Methinks thy voice is altered, and thou speak'st
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

In better phrase and matter than thou didst.
matter (n.) 1 subject-matter, content, substance
phrase (n.) 1 phrasing, language, mode of expression


Y'are much deceived. In nothing am I changed

But in my garments.


                         Methinks y'are better spoken.


Come on, sir; here's the place. Stand still! How fearful

And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low!

The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
chough (n.) 1 jackdaw

Show scarce so gross as beetles. Halfway down
gross (adj.) 2 large, big, huge
show (v.) appear, look [like], present [as]

Hangs one that gathers sampire – dreadful trade!
sampire, samphire (n.) variety of marine plant See Topics: Plants

Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

The fishermen that walk upon the beach

Appear like mice, and yon tall anchoring bark,
anchoring (adj.) riding at anchor
bark, barque (n.) ship, vessel
tall (adj.) 2 large, fine, grand

Diminished to her cock; her cock, a buoy
cock (n.) 3 small ship's boat, dinghy
cock (n.) 3 small ship's boat, dinghy

Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge

That on th' unnumbered idle pebble chafes
chafe (v.) 1 fret, rage, seethe
idle (adj.) 10 inactive, unmoving, inert
unnumbered (adj.) innumerable, countless, uncountable

Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more,

Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
turn (v.) 8 spin round, whirl about, go round and round

Topple down headlong.


                         Set me where you stand.


Give me your hand. You are now within a foot

Of th' extreme verge. For all beneath the moon

Would I not leap upright.


                         Let go my hand.

Here, friend, 's another purse; in it a jewel

Well worth a poor man's taking. Fairies and gods

Prosper it with thee! Go thou further off.
prosper (v.) make prosperous, give success to

Bid me farewell; and let me hear thee going.


Now fare ye well, good sir.


                         With all my heart.



Why I do trifle thus with his despair

Is done to cure it.



                         O you mighty gods!

This world I do renounce, and in your sights

Shake patiently my great affliction off.
patiently (adv.) 1 with endurance, with fortitude

If I could bear it longer and not fall

To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
opposeless (adj.) unable to be resisted, unchallengeable

My snuff and loathed part of nature should
part (n.) 3 remnant, fragment, vestige
snuff (n.) 2 smouldering candle-end, burnt-out wick

Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!

Now, fellow, fare thee well.


                         Gone, sir. Farewell.

Gloucester throws himself forward

And yet I know not how conceit may rob
conceit (n.) 1 imagination, fancy, wit

The treasury of life, when life itself
treasury (n.) 1 money, wealth, riches

Yields to the theft. Had he been where he thought,

By this had thought been past. – Alive or dead?

Ho, you, sir! Friend! Hear you, sir? Speak! –

Thus might he pass indeed. Yet he revives –
pass (v.) 18 pass away, pass from life, die

What are you, sir?


                         Away, and let me die.


Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count

So many fathom down precipitating,
precipitate (v.) fall headlong, plunge, tumble

Thou'dst shivered like an egg; but thou dost breathe,
shiver (v.) smash to pieces, fragment

Hast heavy substance, bleed'st not, speak'st, art sound.

Ten masts at each make not the altitude

Which thou hast perpendicularly fell.

Thy life's a miracle. Speak yet again.


But have I fallen or no?


From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
bourn (n.) 1 frontier, destination, boundary
dread (adj.) 1 revered, deeply honoured, held in awe

Look up a-height. The shrill-gorged lark so far
a-height (adv.) on high, aloft
shrill-gorged (adj.) shrill-sounding, with high-pitched voice

Cannot be seen or heard. Do but look up.


Alack, I have no eyes.

Is wretchedness deprived that benefit

To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort

When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage
beguile (v.) 1 cheat, deceive, trick

And frustrate his proud will.


                         Give me your arm.

Up – so. How is't? Feel you your legs? You stand.


Too well, too well.


                         This is above all strangeness.

Upon the crown o'the cliff what thing was that

Which parted from you?


                         A poor unfortunate beggar.


As I stood here below methought his eyes
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,

Horns welked and waved like the enridged sea.
enridged (adj.) thrown into ridges, rippling
welked (adj.) twisted, ridged, convoluted

It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
father (n.) 1 old man, venerable sir See Topics: Address forms
happy (adj.) 1 fortunate, lucky, favoured

Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours
clear (adj.) 1 pure, spotless, faultless

Of men's impossibilities, have preserved thee.


I do remember now. Henceforth I'll bear

Affliction till it do cry out itself

‘ Enough, enough,’ and die. That thing you speak of,

I took it for a man; often 'twould say

‘ The fiend, the fiend;’ he led me to that place.


Bear free and patient thoughts.

Enter Lear fantastically dressed with wild flowers
fantastically (adv.) fancifully, grotesquely, bizarrely
free (adj.) 4 free of worry, untroubled, carefree
patient (adj.) calm, serene, of quiet mind

                         But who comes here?

The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
accommodate (v.) 1 furnish, equip
safe (adj.) 4 sane, sound, mentally balanced

His master thus.


No, they cannot touch me for coining.; I am the
coining (n.) making coins
touch (v.) 9 stain, taint, infect

King himself.


O thou side-piercing sight!
side-piercing (adj.) heart-rending, heart-breaking, harrowing


Nature's above art in that respect. There's your
nature (n.) 6 natural order, ungoverned state, way of the world [often personified]

press-money. – That fellow handles his bow like a
crowkeeper, crow-keeper (n.) scarecrow, farmer's boy, person who keeps crows away
press-money (n.) money paid to recruits when conscripted

crow-keeper. – Draw me a clothier's yard. – Look, look, a
clothier's yard yard [36 inches / c.90 cm] by which clothiers measured their cloth
draw (v.) 6 pull out, force out

mouse! – Peace, peace! this piece of toasted cheese will

do't. – There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it on a giant. –
prove (v.) 1 test, try out, make trial [of]

Bring up the brown bills. – O, well flown, bird! I'the
bill (n.) 1 [applied to various kinds of long-handled spear-like weapon] halberd; bill-hook See Topics: Weapons

clout, i' the clout! Hewgh! – Give the word.
clout (n.) 2 [archery] pin fixing a target, cloth patch at the centre of a target; mark, bull


Sweet marjoram.




I know that voice.

He falls to his knees


Ha! Gonerill with a white beard! They flattered me

like a dog and told me I had the white hairs in my beard.

ere the black ones were there. To say ‘ ay ’ and ‘ no ’ to

everything that I said! ‘Ay' and ‘no' too was no good

divinity. When the rain came to wet me once and the
divinity (n.) 1 theology

wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not

peace at my bidding; there I found 'em, there I smelt
peace (v.) be still, keep silent, be calm See Topics: Attention signals

'em out. Go to, they are not men o' their words. They

told me I was everything. 'Tis a lie: I am not
ague-proof (adj.) immune to fevers, resistant to sickness



The trick of that voice I do well remember.
trick (n.) 3 peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, distinguishing trait

Is't not the King?


                         Ay, every inch a king.

When I do stare see how the subject quakes.

I pardon that man's life. What was thy cause?
cause (n.) 5 court case, legal action, matter before the court


Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery? No.

The wren goes to't, and the small gilded fly
gilded (adj.) 1 glittering, gold-coloured, tinged with gold

Does lecher in my sight.
lecher (v.) copulate, play the part of a lecher

Let copulation thrive; for Gloucester's bastard son

Was kinder to his father than my daughters

Got 'tween the lawful sheets.

To't, luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers.
luxury (n.) lust, lechery, lasciviousness
pell-mell (adv.) in headlong confusion, in disordered haste

Behold yon simpering dame

Whose face between her forks presages snow,
fork (n.) 3 (plural) legs
presage (v.) 1 signify, indicate

That minces virtue and does shake the head
mince (v.) 3 suggest by walking pretentiously, give an affected impression of

To hear of pleasure's name –

The fitchew nor the soiled horse goes to't
fitchew, fichew, ficho (n.) polecat, skunk; also: prostitute
go to it 1 copulate, engage in sexual intercourse
soiled (adj.) fully fed with fresh fodder; lively, skittish

With a more riotous appetite.

Down from the waist they are centaurs,

Though women all above;

But to the girdle do the gods inherit,
inherit (v.) 5 possess, hold power over

Beneath is all the fiends' –

There's hell, there's darkness, there is the sulphurous

pit – burning, scalding, stench, consumption! Fie, fie,
consumption (n.) 2 destruction, being consumed by fire

fie! Pah, pah! Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary,
apothecary, pothecary (n.) one who prepares and sells medicinal drugs
civet (n.) type of musky perfume [obtained form the civet cat]

sweeten my imagination. There's money for


He gives flowers


O, let me kiss that hand!


Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.


O ruined piece of nature! This great world
piece (n.) 2 specimen, masterpiece

Shall so wear out to naught. Dost thou know me?


I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou

squiny at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid; I'll not

love. Read thou this challenge; mark but the penning
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count
penning (n.) handwriting, penmanship

of it.


Were all the letters suns, I could not see.



I would not take this from report. It is;
take (v.) 14 accept, believe, trust

And my heart breaks at it.




What, with the case of eyes?
case (n.) 1 state, plight, situation, circumstance
case (n.) 9 holder, covering, receptacle


O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your head,

nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy
heavy (adj.) 2 grave, serious, weighty
heavy (adj.) 1 sorrowful, sad, gloomy See Topics: Frequency count

case, your purse in a light; yet you see how this world
case (n.) 1 state, plight, situation, circumstance



I see it feelingly.
feelingly (adv.) 2 in ways that reach the senses


What, art mad? A man may see how this world goes

with no eyes. Look with thine ears. See how yon justice

rails upon yon simple thief. Hark in thine ear – change
rail (v.) rant, rave, be abusive [about] See Topics: Frequency count
simple (adj.) 1 common, ordinary, average, humble

places and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is
handy-dandy choose, make your choice [from the children's game: choosing which hand holds an object]

the thief? Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a



Ay, sir.


And the creature run from the cur? There thou
creature (n.) 1 man, human

mightst behold the great image of authority: a dog's

obeyed in office.
office (n.) 2 role, position, place, function

Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand.
beadle (n.) 1 parish constable

Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thy own back.

Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind
hotly (adv.) 2 ardently, desperately, avidly
kind (n.) 2 manner, way, state

For which thou whipp'st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
cozener (n.) cheat, deceiver, fraud
usurer (n.) money-lender, one who charges excessive interest

Thorough tattered clothes great vices do appear;

Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sins with gold,

And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
hurtless (adj.) without hurting, harmlessly

Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw does pierce it.

None does offend, none, I say, none; I'll able 'em.
able (v.) strengthen, fortify, give power to

Take that of me, my friend, (giving flowers) who have the power

To seal th' accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes,
glass eyes spectacles

And like a scurvy politician seem
politician (n.) schemer, intriguer, plotter
scurvy (adj.) 1 contemptible, despicable, wretched

To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now, now!

Pull off my boots. Harder, harder – so.


O matter and impertinency mixed,
impertinency (n.) irrelevance, nonsense, senselessness
matter (n.) 1 subject-matter, content, substance

Reason in madness!


If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.

I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester.

Thou must be patient; we came crying hither.

Thou knowest the first time that we smell the air

We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee – Mark!
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count
wawl (v.) yell, howl, bawl

He takes off his coronet of flowers


Alack, alack the day!
coronet (n.) 2 garland, wreath, circlet [of flowers, etc]


When we are born we cry that we are come

To this great stage of fools. – This's a good block.
block (n.) 2 [of hats] style, fashion, shape, mould

It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
delicate (adj.) 4 cunning, ingenious, skilful

A troop of horse with felt. I'll put 't in proof;
proof (n.) 3 test, trial

And when I have stolen upon these son-in-laws,

Then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!

He throws down his flowers and stamps on them

Enter a Gentleman and two attendants. Gloucester

and Edgar draw back


O, here he is. Lay hand upon him. – Sir,

Your most dear daughter –


No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even

The natural fool of fortune. Use me well;
natural fool born fool, simpleton by nature

You shall have ransom. Let me have surgeons;
surgeon (n.) doctor, physician

I am cut to the brains.


                         You shall have anything.


No seconds? All myself?
second (n.) 1 supporter, helper, champion

Why, this would make a man a man of salt,
salt (n.) 1 salt tears

To use his eyes for garden water-pots,

Ay, and laying autumn's dust. I will die bravely,
bravely (adv.) 3 in fine clothes, splendidly dressed

Like a smug bridegroom. What! I will be jovial.
jovial (adj.) majestic, like Jove [Jupiter]
smug (adj.) 1 neat, spruce, trim

Come, come, I am a king; masters, know you that?


You are a royal one, and we obey you.


Then there's life in't. Nay, and you get it you shall

get it by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa.

Exit running, followed by attendants


A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
mean (adj.) 1 of low rank, inferior in position, less important

Past speaking of in a king. – Thou hast one daughter

Who redeems nature from the general curse
general (adj.) 1 common, of everyone, public

Which twain have brought her to.


(coming forward)

Hail, gentle sir.
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count


                         Sir, speed you; what's your will?


Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count
toward (adv.) impending, forthcoming, in preparation


Most sure and vulgar. Everyone hears that
sure (adj.) 1 certain, definite, reliable
vulgar (adj.) 2 generally known, commonly acknowledged

Which can distinguish sound.


                         But, by your favour,

How near's the other army?


Near, and on speedy foot. The main descry
descry (n.) sighting, spotting, discovery of what is distant

Stands on the hourly thought.
stand (v.) 2 continue, remain, wait, stay put


                         I thank you, sir; that's all.


Though that the Queen on special cause is here,
cause (n.) 1 reason, motive, ground

Her army is moved on.


                         I thank you, sir.

Exit Gentleman


(coming forward)

You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me.

Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
worse (adj.) evil, harmful, wicked

To die before you please.


                         Well pray you, father.


Now, good sir, what are you?


A most poor man made tame to fortune's blows,
tame (adj.) 1 submissive, resigned, habituated

Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,
art (n.) 4 knowledge, mastery, acquisition
feeling (adj.) 1 deeply felt, heartfelt, acutely sensed

Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand,
pregnant (adj.) 1 well-disposed, ready, inclined, receptive

I'll lead you to some biding.
biding (n.) 2 place to stay, dwelling


                         Hearty thanks;

The bounty and the benison of heaven
benison (n.) blessing, benediction

To boot, and boot!
boot (n.) 4 booty, plunder, spoils
boot, to in addition, as well See Topics: Swearing
happy (adj.) 1 fortunate, lucky, favoured
proclaimed (adj.) publicly declared [as an outlaw], announced by proclamation

Enter Oswald


                         A proclaimed prize! Most happy!

That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh
frame (v.) 1 fashion, make, form, create

To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor,
unhappy (adj.) 2 hapless, miserable, wretched

Briefly thyself remember; the sword is out
remember (v.) 2 recollect, recall, call to mind

That must destroy thee.


                         Now let thy friendly hand

Put strength enough to't.

Edgar intervenes


                         Wherefore, bold peasant,

Darest thou support a published traitor? Hence,
published (adj.) proclaimed, publicly announced

Lest that th' infection of his fortune take

Like hold on thee. Let go his arm!
like (adj.) 1 same, similar, alike, equal See Topics: Frequency count


Ch'ill not let go, zir, without vurther 'cagion.
'cagion, 'casion (n.) dialect version of ‘occasion’ [= cause]
'chill (pron. + v.) dialect version of ‘I will’
occasion (n.) 2 ground, reason, cause, matter
zir (n.) dialect variant of ‘sir’


Let go, slave, or thou diest!


Good gentleman, go your gait and let poor volk
gate (n.) 1 way, road, path

pass. And 'choud ha' bin zwaggered out of my life,
'chould (v.) dialect version of ‘I should’
swagger (v.) 1 force by blustering language, bully

'twould not ha' bin zo long as 'tis by a vortnight. Nay,
zo (adv.) dialect form of ‘so’

come not near th' old man; keep out, che vor' ye, or I'ce
'ce (v.) dialect version of ‘shall’
che (pron.) dialect version of ‘I’
vor (v.) dialect version of ‘warn’

try whether your costard or my ballow be the harder.
ballow (n.) cudgel, stick
bat (n.) cudgel, staff, stick
costard (n.) [jocular: large kind of apple] head

'Chill be plain with you.


Out, dunghill!


'Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come; no matter vor
zir (n.) dialect variant of ‘sir’

your foins.
foin (n.) sword-thrust

They fight


Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse.

If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body

And give the letters which thou find'st about me

To Edmund, Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out

Upon the English party. O, untimely
party (n.) 1 side, faction, camp

Death! – Death –

He dies


I know thee well: a serviceable villain,
serviceable (adj.) 2 diligent, subservient, ready to do anything

As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
duteous (adj.) dutiful, obedient, of allegiance

As badness would desire.


                         What, is he dead?


Sit you down, father; rest you. –

Let's see these pockets. The letters that he speaks of

May be my friends. He's dead. I am only sorry

He had no other deathsman. Let us see.
deathsman (n.) executioner

Leave, gentle wax; and manners blame us not;
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

To know our enemies' minds we rip their hearts;

Their papers is more lawful.

(He reads the letter)

Let our reciprocal vows be remembered. You have many

opportunities to cut him off; if your will want not, time and

place will be fruitfully offered. There is nothing done if he
fruitfully (adv.) plentifully, amply, abundantly
want (v.) 3 fall short [of], be deficient [in]

return the conqueror. Then am I the prisoner, and his bed

my gaol; from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me and

supply the place for your labour.

Your – wife, so I would say – affectionate servant,


O indistinguished space of woman's will!
indistinguished, undistinguished (adj.) limitless, unimaginable, beyond apprehension
will (n.) 2 lust, sexual desire, passion

A plot upon her virtuous husband's life,

And the exchange, my brother! Here in the sands

Thee I'll rake up, the post unsanctified
post (n.) 1 express messenger, courier See Topics: Frequency count
rake up (v.) bury, cover up
unsanctified (adj.) unholy, wicked, ungodly

Of murderous lechers; and in the mature time
mature (adj.) ready, ripe, set

With this ungracious paper strike the sight
ungracious (adj.) 1 wicked, without grace, profane

Of the death-practised Duke. For him 'tis well
death-practised (adj.) whose death has been plotted

That of thy death and business I can tell.


The King is mad; how stiff is my vile sense,
sense (n.) 3 feeling, sensibility, capacity to feel
stiff (adj.) 4 unresponsive, unbending, stubborn
vile, vild (adj.) 3 shameful, contemptible, wretched

That I stand up and have ingenious feeling
ingenious (adj.) 1 alert, fully conscious, intelligent, capable

Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract;
distract (adj.) 1 deranged, mad, mentally disturbed

So should my thoughts be severed from my griefs,

And woes by wrong imaginations lose
imagination (n.) 1 delusion, fancy, imagining

The knowledge of themselves.

Drum afar off


                         Give me your hand.

Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

Come, father, I'll bestow you with a friend.
bestow (v.) 4 accommodate, lodge, quarter


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